New York Rangers lineup in flux for Game 5 versus Lightning
The New York Rangers are just hours away from the biggest game of their season. At 8:00 PM on Thursday night, they face the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 5 with the series tied at two.
Earlier today, Bolts’ coach Jon Cooper ruled out Brayden Point for this contest but the chances of him returning in the series are growing. Meanwhile, Gerard Gallant will address the media at 6:00 PM but his update on Ryan Strome or Filip Chytil may not change.
“I expected [Strome] last night (Tuesday) but they’re both game-time decisions,” Gallant said Wednesday. “You’ve got to make the right calls for everyone. [Game 4] we made the right call.”
UPDATE: Strome and Chytil in!
New York Rangers injury and lineup news
So far in these playoffs, Strome has 9 points in 17 playoff games. Chytil, who was one of the team’s better offensive players with 6 points in his last 6 games, also has 9 postseason points.
Strome, 28, was injured during the second period of the Rangers 3-2 loss in Game 3. Lightning forward Ondrej Palat delivered an unexpected crosscheck that sent Strome off balance. That caused a lower-body injury that forced him miss the rest of that match and Game 4.
Chytil, 22, took a solid board hit by Victor Hedman late in the second period of Game 4 knocking him out of the contest with an upper-body injury.
Kevin Rooney stepped in for Strome on Tuesday but Dryden Hunt also dressed for warmups. Should both Strome and Chytil be unable to go, Hunt appears to be your next man up.
Hunt, 26, registered 17 points in 76 games this regular-season for the Blueshirts. He played in the Rangers Game 2 win over the Penguins in the opening round and in their Game 3 loss in Pittsburgh. He collected no points in those contests but was physical with five hits.
“We like the depth of our team to manage and overcome injuries,” Jacob Trouba said. “We expect injuries this time of year and every team is playing banged up. Do we miss [Strome and Chytil]? Yeah. Do we hope they come back? Yeah. But you’ve got to be able to play without them.”
Sammy Blais has just started full practices but is believed to not be an option in this series. He last played a game in November.
What changes can Gerard Gallant make?
During the Rangers 4-1 loss on Tuesday, head coach Gerard Gallant tried to get Artemi Panarin going by moving him up with Mika Zibanejad and Frank Vatrano.
It didn’t work and I believe Gallant will not try that again.
However, if Ryan Strome can play and Filip Chytil can’t, I think Andrew Copp slipping down to the center Alexis Lafrenière and Kaapo Kakko makes a lot of sense. Goodrow could remain at the win in the second line.
If Chytil can play and Strome can’t, I would be open to seeing Barclay Goodrow play the fourth line with Tyler Motte moved up to the second line wing. His speed on the forecheck would help Copp and Panarin with some puck retrievals.
Should both be unable to go, Hunt on a fourth line with Rooney and Reaves is serviceable. Tyler Motte could center the third line or slot on the second line wing moving Goodrow down to center the kids.
Whatever roster moves the Rangers make, they have to make life more difficult on Andrei Vasilevskiy.
“I don’t care who is in net, every goalie in the world struggles with a puck that goes east-west, has to battle through traffic and then is immediately released on net. They can’t get set,” Chris Kreider said. “That’s what gives us our best chance, and I think to a guy we probably all could say we received a pass like that tonight and got it, picked our head up, tried to pick a spot as opposed to getting it off quick.”
The Rangers have a great opportunity here to go up 3-2 in ECF on the two-time defending champs. Can they do it? No reason to start doubting them now, but they’ll have to bring their best in order to get it done.
“We’re 8-1 at home, so let’s go play our home game again and get right back at it,” Gallant said. “It’s going to be a battle. We’re playing against a team that had a lot of experience the last three years, obviously. They’re not going to give it to us. We’ve got to go out and take it. That’s what we have to do.”
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